African Journal of Marine Science

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Summer survey of fur seals at Prince Edward Island, southern Indian Ocean

MN Bester, PG Ryan, J Visagie


The onshore distributions and the abundances of Antarctic fur sealsArctocephalus gazella and Subantarctic fur seals A. tropicalis were determined at Prince Edward Island during 16–20 December 2008. This repeats a survey conducted in December 2001 and extends the area surveyed to include the entire south-west coast of Prince Edward Island. Of the two colonies of Antarctic fur seals, the colony among Subantarctic fur seals north of Boggel Beach remained small, with increased numbers of Subantarctic fur seals and putative hybrids. The other Antarctic fur seal breeding colony at Penguin Beach remained free of Subantarctic fur seals and had expanded at a mean intrinsic rate of natural increase of 11.4% per year from 2001. With an estimated 810 pups, the Antarctic fur seal is still in the rapid recolonisation phase of population growth. The distribution of the more widespread and abundant Subantarctic fur seals also had increased, with several new breeding colonies along the east coast and one at Kent Crater on the west coast. The annual pup production was conservatively estimated at 14 130 pups. The mean intrinsic rate of natural increase has declined to –0.3% per year over the last seven years, compared to the 9.3% per year between 1987/1988 and 2001/2002, and the population is in the mature phase of population growth.

Keywords: Arctocephalus; distribution; fur seals; population increase; Prince Edward Island; Subantarctic

African Journal of Marine Science 2009, 31(3): 451–455
AJOL African Journals Online